Recipe from The Brazilian Kitchen by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz (Kyle Books, 2012)
Minas Grelhado com Pesto Brasileiro
This glorious appetizer requires very little work. The cheese is cooked but its firm texture keeps it from melting completely. Make sure you buy the whitest and freshest Minas cheese so that the griddled marks appear, and try to use a griddle pan or barbecue grill with a small grill elevation to prevent the cheese sticking to the surface. Cutting the cheese into triangles gives this dish a fancier look, but if you don’t want to spare any cheese, leave it in the original round shape and enjoy those extra few nibbles.
A combination of Brazil nuts with parsley and coriander give this pesto a Brazilian wallop that is charming but not overwhelming.
For the pesto sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C/325˚F/Gas Mark 3.
- 50g (13/4 oz) Brazil nuts
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 20g (3/4 oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 20g (3/4 oz) fresh coriander leaves
- 175ml (6fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 400g (14 oz) firm Minas cheese
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2. Prepare the pesto as per the instructions on pages 46–47.
3. Place a griddle pan over a high heat on the hob, or preheat a gas barbecue.
4. Trim the round Minas cheese into a square. Cut the cheese in half diagonally to make 2 large triangles. Cut each large triangle in sections to make 4–5 thinner triangles, about 1cm (1/2 inch) thick. Brush each triangular slice with the olive oil and season with just a tiny pinch of salt (not too much, since Minas cheese is already salted) and pepper.
5. Grill the cheese until you see medium-brown grill marks on both sides, being careful not to let the cheese melt, about 2 minutes on each side. Carefully transfer each triangle to a serving platter.
6. Spoon the pesto (which should be slightly cold or at room temperature) over the cheese and serve immediately.